5 great creative toys that your kids should have.
Inspiring creativity in your child means meeting them where they are and guiding them toward their next step in brain development. For example, young children think that ten marbles in a long line are more marbles than ten in a bag. This difference, caused by limited spatial reasoning, will fade with time and guidance. Even better, creative toys are fun for grownups, too!
Movement based toys
There is great creative power in moving a wheeled toy from one spot to another. For example, a simple wooden train can teach many things. Observing a wooden train in motion, the child can learn how wheels turn on an axle. Pushing a train around on a mat layout can show a child where trains will fit (in the tunnel, yes, under the sofa, no.)
The act of pushing a car, a stroller, or pedaling a big wheel can teach a child a great deal about the force it takes to turn a wheel. While exploring these with your child, you can address issues of safety, such as where it’s hard for car drivers to see when backing up. You can work on colors on a training mat, or study textures when comparing the mat to the carpet. Every action can lead to an age-appropriate lesson.
Cause and effect toys
Gears are a great toy for teaching cause and effect. If you turn this, that will come together, or pull apart. If your kids watch you work with tools, you can show them how using a screwdriver or a drill works to join and separate things.
This study of cause and effect can start very early. A set of nesting bowls or measuring cups dragged out of the cabinet, becomes a useful way to understand size. The popular ring tree toy can teach the same thing. While your child is studying size, you can also work on color, in the case of the ring tree, and lay the groundwork for familiarity with fractions, in the case of the measuring cups.
Building blocks, Legos and Lincoln Logs are some of the most creative toys on the market. They can teach kids design as well as colors. For very small kids, building a block tower and knocking it down is great fun. For older kids, the act of building a Lego set tied to a movie or comic book can help you carry themes across, as well as encouraging design thinking.
Lincoln Logs are a great option for incorporating history into creative play. Consider studying your area of the world to determine whether log houses were a common form of construction. If not, what was? If you live in the plains, you can study sod construction; in the southwest, adobe and brick.
To promote real design thinking, limit the number of building toys that you own that have a goal or a photo the child needs to match. Yes, it’s important to make the puzzle look like the cover. However, it’s also very important for children to be able to build from the ground up based on their own vision.
Wooden building blocks offer kids a great opportunity to create an amazing vision from the ground up. Smaller children may enjoy time working with magnetic tiles that can be easily connected to fantastical constructions. Just be sure that when your child gets these toys out of the cupboard that the picture on the box is not within sight. Let them create their own patterns.
A simple set of dress-up clothes, some gloves, and an old purse can allow your child to create a whole new character. Dress up doesn’t have to be elaborate. A simple kerchief or scarf can become anything from a cape to a shawl to a babushka.
Hats are another terrific tool to promote creative play. In a wide hat and a broad belt, your child can be a cowboy. Tie a scarf around the hat, lose the belt, and add a shawl and your child is a prairie schoolteacher. Get out the Lincoln Logs and build a school!
Creativity is about connection. Let your child’s playtime be at least partially spent away from linear thinking. Coloring within the lines is soothing and great for motor skills and color recognition, but very linear. Instead, encourage the hub and spoke thinking. The child in the schoolteacher outfit will need a building, books, and transportation. What else can they think up?